House Bill Number: HB0596
Senate Bill Number: SB783
Vision: To place in the Declaration of Rights of the Maryland state constitution the right of each person to a healthful environment. This amendment would be self-executing and allow each person (including communities and organizations) the right to protect themselves against environmental degradation caused by or allowed by the government.
Environmental Human Rights Amendment
WHEREAS, all living things are dependent upon the gifts of a healthful environment; and
WHEREAS, the full expression of human dignity is incompatible with a degraded environment; and
WHEREAS, a sustainable, regenerative ecosystem and stable climate are essential to support a vibrant society and economy; and
WHEREAS, access to a healthy and healthful environment is a birthright of all; now, therefore, let it be enacted:
(A) That each person has a fundamental and inalienable right to a healthful and sustainable environment. and said right shall not be infringed.
(B) That the State, as trustee, shall protect, conserve, and enhance Maryland's natural resources, including its air, lands, waters, wildlife, and ecosystems, for the benefit of both present and future generations.
If Passed, What Would this Bill Do?
- To codify our right to a healthy environment in the Maryland State Constitution.
- Full official language of the bill here.
- View IPC's Testimony to the House here.
- View IPC's Testimony to the Senate here.
- Join us in supporting the Environmental Human Rights Amendment:
- Call or email your legislative representatives! You’d be amazed by how important your voice is to your local legislator. Not sure who your representatives are? Visit mdelect.net and enter your address to look up your state representatives and their contact information.
- Here's a Phone Script for you to use when you call your legislators.
- Need more information? Watch this recording of the Maryland Legislative Briefing that we co-hosted on January 30.
Environmental Justice Implications/Equity:
This amendment is unlike other bills. It does not speak in specific terms but rather of fundamental rights conferred upon all people. It provides the benchmark against which our environmental laws and policies will be measured. Racial as well as intergenerational justice is baked into the words – “each person” and “present and future generations.”
There is no compromising on those words.
The amendment also provides the foundation for the enforcement of several of the 17 Environmental Justice Principles developed by the Delegates to the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit of 1991. Principle number 2 states: Environmental Justice demands that public policy be based on "mutual respect and justice for all peoples, free from any form of discrimination or bias.” By amending the Declaration of Rights section to assert and protect each person’s right to a healthful environment, the amendment codifies this environmental justice principle into Maryland law, and protects it on par with other civil rights.
Passing the right to a healthful environment will require codifying these first few principles into law...
- Principle 2 mandates mutual respect and justice for all people. The amendment confers a constitutional right to a healthful environment for each person in Maryland.
- Principle 3 mandates the use of land and resources in a sustainable manner for humans and other living things. The Amendment recognizes that the state, as trustee of Maryland’s natural resources, shall preserve them for current and future generations.
- Principle 4 mandates protection from toxic and hazardous waste that threatens the fundamental right to clean air, water, land, and food. The amendment codifies the right to a healthful environment on par with other civil rights.
- Principle 5 affirms the fundamental right to political, economic, cultural and environmental self-determination of all peoples. The amendment supports self-determination in recognizing the basic human dignity of the right to a healthful environment in which to live and thrive.
Looking for more ways to get involved and advocate for environmentally conscious policy in the 2022 session? Join us on January 30th for a special co-hosted Interfaith Maryland Legislative Briefing learning opportunity all about 3 of Maryland's most important pieces of environmental legislation (including the MD Environmental Human Rights Amendment).
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